Calgary – You know it’s a friendly competition when the winners whoop it up at Ranchman’s alongside the teams they beat to take the title.
That was the picture at the iconic watering hole Sunday night as Team World Champion Blacksmiths (WCB) celebrated their victory in the Calgary Stampede Blacksmith Classic with members of the American Farriers Team and Team Canadian Farrier Supply.
Over the course of the three-day competition, the three teams showed their mettle in a series of challenges that tested an array of abilities. When the smoke cleared, team World Champion Blacksmiths (Tom Petersen, Bozeman, Mont.; Lamar Weaver, Denver, Penn.; Robert Jukes, Weatherford, Tex.; and Chris Madrid, Sante Fe, N.M.) took the title and the $8,000 cheque that came with it.
“It went really well. All of us have our own spots where we are stronger. Some are quicker on the trims, some of us are more the forging and fit guys,” Peterson said in the midst of the celebrations. “We are all pretty even across the board, though. There’s nobody who is really behind.”
Friday’s face-off involved two-person teams building two full sets of shoes, followed by the individual speed class in which competitors had 15 minutes to make a shoe. On Saturday, each team had to shoe two saddle horses in two hours.
Going into Sunday’s final class in the Northern Lights Arena, Team WCB had the lead with 42 points, followed by American Farriers Team (Craig Trnka, Eagleton, N.M.; Bodie Trnka, Eagan, Minn.; Tim McPhee, Epping, N.H.; and Jeremy Scudder, Maryland, N.Y.) with 39 points.
Canadian Farrier Specialists (Kris Kemp, Barrhead, Alta.; Mark Currie, Okotoks, Alta.; Greg Toronchuk, Onoway, Alta.; and Jason Wrubleski, Sherwood Park, Alta.) trailed with 35 points. The standings stood for the final, which meant the American team took home $3,000 and the Canadians $2,000.
In the last round, each team member had to trim one foot, forge one shoe, nail on one shoe and finish one foot of their team’s draft horse. All work had to be completed in a two-hour window and the files were flying in the final moments.
“Our strategy was that we wanted to make it look like one person shod the horse,” Petersen said. “We wanted to make good shoeing and to make it look consistent. We didn’t want one shoe or one foot to look subpar.”
Team Canadian Farrier Supply was faced with a steep challenge in the final class. Their Belgian stood 18 hands tall and weighed in at approximately 2,000 pounds. It took two-and-a-half inches of steel to properly fit the shoe, much more than the team had practiced for. Working the shoes for the correct fit meant they had to spread them thinner to fit the massive hooves. And then there was all that metal.
“The shoe was probably six and a half, seven pounds. Just physically working with it was difficult in itself,” Wrubleski said.
But the challenge of the competition is what keeps the team coming back for more, he said.
“It makes you better,” Wrubleski said. “It improves the quality of your work.”
The Sherwood Park, Alta. farrier has been perfecting his craft for 18 years, and calculates he’s shod approximately 21,500 horses in that time. But don’t look for him on top of a steed any time soon.
“I got bucked off and broke three ribs off by my back. I couldn’t work. It was really rough. Golf is a much safer sport.”
About the Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west. The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned 10-day Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together; we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and celebrates our western heritage, cultures and community spirit. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.
See more at calgarystampede.com